What Am I Doing?

“…I am out with lanterns, looking for myself,” wrote Emily Dickinson in a letter. I saw this quote over the summer and it felt like a warm hug, a confirmation that it’s ok. For the past several years — in life, in job interviews, in general — if someone has asked me where I see myself in the next five years, or what my next steps are, I’d cry.

I’ve been in arts nonprofit administration since graduating from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2009, and realized in late 2014 just how miserable I was. So, I’ve been taking a really windy path since then — switching jobs, then quitting, going back to an old job part time, picking up other part time jobs and either leaving them or failing at them. It’s been exhausting. My only beacon has been Brooklin Heirloom.

I decided last summer to focus on our house. We inherited this family home officially after my husband and I got married in May 2015, and I’ve always looked at it as not only a huge gift and responsibility — but an opportunity. I thought, “I’m smart, I’m creative, I love this house, I have good taste, let’s make something of this.” So, I started an Instagram, this blog, and an Etsy shop with vintage home goods and thought, “here I go!”

The thing I love AND hate about the social media community I have found through Brooklin Heirloom is how many beautiful, creative, genius things everyone has going on. It both inspires and paralyzes me. My internal monologue is constantly running, “…how did they get there? I could do that… but why haven’t I yet? What am I lacking? Ok, don’t think that way — I know I can get there. Ok, well do it. Stop being lazy.  Just take better photos. I feel like I’m working hard. What am I missing?”

On top of the community inspiring me think to about what’s next, my husband has been pushing me too. He’s a graphic designer and I’m his worst client. While working on the branding for my Etsy shop, he has forced me to verbalize what I want, what this is. And it’s terrifying! I have been saying, “I don’t know! Can’t you just make me a simple business card!?” for months. And it’s time to get my shit together.

It’s been over a year since I started Brooklin Heirloom, and two years since I decided there is something bigger for me — and if you ask me where I’ll be in the next several years, you’ll still make me cry, but I feel like the answer is on the tip of my tongue. I just have to keep pushing through the fog to get there.

What I do know: by June we’ll hopefully be in Brooklin, Maine in our house. We’ll stay for at least the summer, and then evaluate what’s next when it starts to get cold. It’ll be a welcome time-out from the costs and chaos of living in a city. But that doesn’t solve the terrifying ambivalence I have towards defining a future career path. So, I’ve narrowed in on two things I love — vintage houses & vintage home goods.

I recently got my real estate license with the hopes that I can gain some experience while still in Massachusetts, and then be able to start investing in little properties that need little face lifts. (And then maybe move up to medium ones…) I want to grow my vintage shop, with either a little pop-up in a retail space or mobile shop I can tote around with me. Perhaps start making some little vintage inspired things (pins, pennants, postcards) alongside my husband to mix in as well?

But I need to stay focused, eye on the prize, with confidence. I’m trying to turn a new leaf, letting go of self doubt, moving forward with conviction. And I’m hopeful. What keeps you going? What spark lead you to where you are? Did you name your inner demon “Brenda” like Queen Katya did? Tell me all your secrets! I’ll focus on how it inspires me, and not how it makes me feel inferior, I promise.

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